Longtime DuVal Coach Artie Walker, who has coached at the Lanham school for nearly 30 years and guided it to Maryland state titles in 1991 and 1994, will not return next season.
In Prince George’s County, coaches are given one-year contracts. During his evaluation last summer, DuVal Principal Eric Harrison told Walker that this would be his last at the school and that his contract would not be renewed after this winter, Walker said.
Aside from telling close friends and family, Walker, who has been at DuVal since 1984, decided to keep the news quiet until the end of the season. After DuVal’s season-ending 61-59 loss to Bowie in the Maryland 4A South playoffs on Feb. 28, Walker finally told his players and word got out.
“I didn’t want to put more pressure on my kids, especially with this group of guys, they’d run through a wall for me,” Walker said.
The outpouring of support since has helped him, he said.
“I was at a loss for words when [Harrison] told me that last summer,” Walker said. “But again, I understand the situation because coaches get fired from time to time. I didn’t expect it. But at one time, it was a downer for me. But we had this season and it was really uplifting for me. If you want to go out, you want to go out with a season we had.”
After winning only nine games combined in the previous two season, the Tigers finished the winter with a 15-7 record and appeared in The Post’s rankings early in the season.
Harrison said the decision to not bring Walker back had nothing to do with winning or his ability to work with the players.
“Artie Walker is without a doubt a pioneer and legend in Prince George’s County Public Schools,” Harrison said. “At this time, we just feel like we need to go in a different direction.”
Walker, a math teacher at the school, said he wanted to leave the school on his own terms, possibly coaching two more seasons. He said he wanted to coach junior Charles Ekanyanwu for his senior season.
Walker said he still wants to coach and is interested in applying to open positions, from high school to youth basketball in the area, and is open to moving if needed. If he can’t secure a coaching job, he said might consider retiring.
“I have a lot of decisions to make,” he said. “And right now, I’m going to finish out this [school] year and do the best I can.”